Money Diary: A 28-Year-Old Expat In Bristol On 26k

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking a cross-section of women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period – and we're tracking every last penny.
This week: "I’m a 28-year-old SEO copywriter in Bristol. I moved to the UK on my own four years ago from New Zealand. Fast forward to today and I feel very lucky to have a wonderful group of friends, an amazing boyfriend and a job I managed to hold down through a pandemic. I started in my company as a temp copywriter on less than £10/hour when I first moved here, and have managed to work my way into a position where I’m fairly autonomous and get to focus on the parts of my job I like the most. Moving to the UK wasn’t the most financially responsible decision, but I am really happy in Bristol and proud of the life I’ve managed to build. A lot of people are surprised to hear how expensive UK visas are, even if you’ve got a British partner! I do feel like I’m constantly juggling living my best life with living within my means every month, something I’m trying to work on."
Occupation: SEO Copywriter
Industry: Marketing
Age: 28
Location: Bristol
Salary: £26,000 plus annual bonus
Paycheque Amount: £1776 
Number of housemates: One, my partner, M
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £412.50 per month for my half of the rent.
Loan payments: £150 towards my New Zealand student loan. This is a fixed rate because I live overseas, and isn’t calculated based on my income. New Zealand student loans are interest free if you live domestically, but as I’ve moved away, mine accrues interest. 
Savings?: £1,500 in an Easy Access saver Monzo pot. I’m not great at saving, but can do it if there's something specific to save towards. The majority of what I have saved over the last five years has gone towards visa costs so I can continue living in the UK. I switched from a ‘working holiday’ visa to a partner visa last year, which cost around £3,000 total for two and a half years. 
Pension?: In the UK, I pay 5% and my employer matches it. I also have a pension in New Zealand which currently has $15,000 in it (around £8,000).
Utilities: £70 for my half of electric and water bills, £60 for my half of council tax, £11 for my half internet. 
All other monthly subscriptions: £10 Giffgaff 'Goodybag' bundle, £9.99 for Spotify, £2.50 for iCloud storage, £16 for union membership.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
 I studied for six years in New Zealand and came out with two degrees. I worked part time alongside study and took out a loan to cover fees. Being from a low-income household, I was entitled to a small stipend per week which I didn’t have to pay back – this came to $200 per week (around £100) and went towards my living costs.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
My parents didn’t really discuss their finances with me and my siblings, but we were never very well off. As a single-income household, money was always tight and we were taught to be frugal. I had a very happy, secure childhood; my parents sacrificed a lot to send us to ‘good’ schools and I got a part-time job early on to pay for activities with friends, new clothes, etc. Looking back as an adult, I’m more aware of my working-class background and how much my parents struggled.
If you have, when did you move out of your parents/guardians house?
I moved out at 18 to go to university.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
I’ve worked since I was 14 but became financially responsible when I moved out of my parents house.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I started working at 14 to earn money to do things with my friends. I had two part time jobs which I worked on weekends – one in a boutique-y clothing/gift shop, the other in a restaurant as a waitress.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes, all the time. I’m very aware that I don’t have much of a safety net, and find it tricky to balance doing things that make me happy with being more sensible with money. I would like to have more stable savings to cover ongoing visa costs without feeling super stressed.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? No.

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